As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to write a quick post listing the countries that use the most renewable energy.
That question is proving to be a little trickier than I thought. First of all, what is renewable, what is not? Some statistics include hydroelectric and biomass, others do not. Some indexes forget to include geothermal. In addition, is it better to look at total energy production from renewable sources, percentage of overall production, or actual consumption of renewable electricity?
For this post, let’s look at TOTAL energy production from renewable sources including Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Biomass. (Why did I leave out Hydroelectricity? Based on overall environmental impact. More on that later.)
Given these parameters, lets look at the Top 5 Renewable Energy Producers by country:
1. The U.S.A.
That’s right, according to the Christian Science Monitor, as of 2011, the US produced more renewable energy than other nation, responsible for 24.7% of renewable energy production.
Germany has made a huge commitment towards renewable energy, vowing to eliminate all nuclear by 2022. In 2011, Germany accounted for 11.7% of global renewable energy.
Though it is a net importer of energy, Spain is known for its wind energy production, and the nation accounts for 7.8% of the world’s RE.
China has recently become the world’s largest energy consumer. Although they are not known for clean energy policy, the are now leading the world in investment in renewable energy as well. In 2011, they accounted for 7.6% of RE production.
Another burgeoning country, Brazil is building a lot of renewable energy to keep up with growing demand. Accounting for 5% of global RE production in 2011, the country has promised to power the 2014 World Cup with solar power.
Now wait a second, does this list look funny to anyone else? The US? Brazil? CHINA? When I think about clean energy, these are NOT the names that generally occur to me. While it is worth noting that these countries produce the highest amount of renewable energy, it is important to note that they are also some of the biggest CONSUMERS of energy overall. Three of the countries from this list are also in the top 5 Coal consumers: China (#1), The US (#2), and Germany (#5).
Next week we will look at which countries produce the highest percentage of their electricity from renewables.